OLYMPIA - The Hands On Children's Museum is a go. In a unanimous vote Tuesday night, The Olympia City Council picked a contractor to build the $18.5 million project near East Bay and lease the building to the museum for $1 per year.
The council awarded the $3.1 million construction portion of the job to Pease Construction Inc. of Lakewood, the low bidder for the project. The remainder of the costs are for finishing the interior of the museum, for the land, design, construction management, permits and miscellaneous expenses.
“Not only does this project result in stemming economic development,” assistant City Manager Jay Burney said, “it is a great way to develop community.”
Construction activity on the Jefferson Street site is planned to begin around Oct. 1, and the approximately 27,000-square-foot museum is set to open in late 2011. Galleries will include exhibits on Puget Sound, healthful living, and forests.
About 30,000 square feet of outdoor exhibit space is targeted to open by May 2012. It includes a 130-foot water feature that starts as an artesian well, becomes a spring and ends in a pool that children can get into. A driftwood fort construction area, children’s garden and fire circle for storytelling are also planned, along with an area filled with sand, gravel and water.
The city is building the $18.5 million museum with $7.9 million in Public Facilities District dollars and $1 million in lodging tax revenue. The museum is responsible for finishing the inside of the building and adding parking, and must handle the rest of the fundraising.
Council members voiced their support. Councilman Stephen Buxbaum acknowledged that the city was taking on risk; that the $7.9 million in expected Public Facilities Tax revenues may not fully materialize. Burney said they are expected to, but acknowledged that if they don’t, the City of Olympia will have to make up the difference out of its general fund.
“We now have to turn to a single nonprofit during a very difficult economic period,” Buxbaum said.
The museum will take its place in a reclaimed industrial area of about 14 acres that the Port of Olympia turned into streets and buildable lots.
The museum will be next to a public plaza jointly funded by the LOTT Clean Water Alliance and the City of Olympia, and lots set aside for private development.
Matt Batcheldor: 360-704-6869 firstname.lastname@example.org